Dr. Dina Swearngin EdD, MSN, RN Talks About Maintaining Morale Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Dina Swearngin

December 18, 2020

Nurses have emerged as front line heroes amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic. Across the country, countless nurses are working to fight COVID-19 and otherwise keep the healthcare system functioning. Yet many nurses are overtaxed and overworked, and at times, morale may sag. That’s why Dr. Dina Swearngin a Professor of Nursing and Dean of Health Sciences, is going to offer some tips for maintaining morale among nursing staffs.

“Many people are stressed and overworked right now,” Dina Swearngin points out, “including many nurses and other medical practitioners. Hospitals and other organizations need to work to maintain morale.”

Nurses are generally well-paid, but with long hours common amid the COVID-19 pandemic and demand for nursing staff skyrocketing, nurses now have an opportunity to increase pay. Many hospitals are offering nurses high-paying temporary contracts, sometimes paying as much as $10,000 a week, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Dina Swearngin advises that hospitals never overlook pay.

“Pay is vital for keeping medical practitioners on staff. Other methods, including personal notes, gifts, and stalwart leadership, can help but monetary compensation should never be overlooked,” Dina Swearngin says. “Many hospitals and other medical facilities are in desperate need of nurses right now, and they’re willing to pay a lot. If you want to keep nurses on staff and happy, you need to offer competitive compensation.”

Another issue is safety. Nurses want to feel safe at work, and they want to reduce the risk of dragging the disease home to their family. Early on, PPE shortages were a major concern. Conditions have since improved, but safety can never be overlooked, according to Dr. Dina Swearngin.

“Safety is a priority for nurses. Medical practitioners in general want to feel safe and that their needs are respected,” Dina Swearngin argues. “Offer plenty of PPE, don’t skimp, especially now that supply issues have eased. Take any other applicable measures to protect the health of your medical staff.”

Dr. Dina Swearngin Discusses Empathy

Communication is vital during any crisis. Employees are more likely to follow leaders that they trust and who project a convincing and inspiring message. Dina Swearngin suggests being empathetic while also emphasizing the needs of your medical staff.

“People pick up on lies and a lack of empathy quickly. If you tell your nurses and medical staff that they have to suck it up and deal with long working hours, they may pack up and find somewhere else to work,” Dina Swearngin points out. “Acknowledge their struggles, embrace their concerns, do what you can, and be honest in your communication.”

Appreciation is another key factor for improving morale. A survey conducted by Glassdoor found that more than 80 percent of employees were more likely to work harder when they felt appreciated. Hospitals should show appreciation to their staff whenever possible.

“Send individual employees personalized notes, thanking them for working overtime or accomplishing a challenging task,” Dina Swearngin suggests. “Small gifts can go a long way too. You can send someone a $5 gift card and suggest they rent a movie so they can relax on their time off, for example.”

Dr. Dina Swearngin ultimately believes that while the times are difficult, by coming together teams can resolve the challenges in front of them.